Tuesday, February 3, 2015


The Dissolution of Local Representative Government Through Charter Schools 
Charter Horror Stories

ESEA Reauthorization bill and charters, see HERE
No Way ESEA!

It is the best kept secret in the country. The most durable myth -- that charter schools are "local control" -- perpetuated by BOTH the Political Right and the Political Left. In fact charters eliminate local control. This is an agenda that has been gradually increasing in scope and severity, not unlike a snowball rolling downhill gathering momentum.

In an article by Dale Ellis, Special to the Arkansas News Bureau, "State Education Board votes to take over Little Rock School District," Jan. 28, 2015, we learn the truth about the scope of the education reform agenda.

LITTLE ROCK — A sharply divided state Board of Education voted 5-4 Wednesday to take immediate control of the Little Rock School District.

The move disbands the school board and places Dexter Suggs, the current superintendent, in an interim role and under the authority of state Education Commissioner Tony Wood. Additionally, the measure calls for creation of a citizen’s advisory council to give input regarding needs and changes in the district.[emphasis added]

Note that the citizen advisory council is appointed, NOT ELECTED. This is where parents and local citizens lose control of the process, and their vote. This aagenda often starts with defining a district as "academically distressed." The state then jumps in to seize control. The article continues:
“When they were in year seven or year eight this board granted the Little Rock School District the ability to turn it from a traditional school to a conversion charter,” she said. “It’s 2015 and they’re still on the list.” [emphasis added]

Ohio's "Gov. John Kasich wants to add teeth to charter school oversight rules and let charters seek local tax levies," the Cleveland Plain Dealer wrote on February 1, 2015 in an article by Patrick O'Donnell. Notice how this eradicates local control. Follow the money trail: 

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Gov. John Kasich's budget proposal Monday would offer charter schools in Ohio two new potential funding sources -- a $25 million facilities fund and the ability to seek local tax levies from voters -- while putting a greater focus on charter school sponsors, or authorizers, as a way to improve school quality....

Charter schools are public schools open to all students. They receive most of their funding from your state tax bills. But they are privately-run, and their records across the state have been spotty, with some standing out as excellent choices for students and others lagging far behind traditional district schools. [emphasis added]

The history of charters is important to know. This charter fraud as been going on for several decades. USA TODAY reported in its October 12, 1998 issue that
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH—The Utah School Boards Association has asked a judge to declare the ’98 Charter Schools Act unconstitutional. Charter schools are funded with public education money, but are exempt from many of the restrictions on public schools. The lawsuit alleges local school boards have control over schools in their boundaries, and that by reaching within those boundaries, the state is creating a new school district without a public vote. [emphasis added, from my book p. 422]
Hats off to the Utah School Boards Association who were acting alive and aware back in 1998. When education activists/researchers in their many speeches across the nation referred to charter schools as “taxation without representation” the silence from conservative audiences was “deafening.”

No wonder I have often called school choice "America's Trojan Horse." From the 3-part article series on my website titled "The Choice Charade," comes the following information from the year 2003:

The Intentional Design Flaw

From the earliest days of education reform plans, charter schools and other “choice” experiments were designed to be unencumbered by the restraints placed on public schools so that they could be free to “innovate.” In order to create an environment where this creativity would not be stifled, reformers insisted on “waivers.” The America 2000 [Read "Lamar the Czar" post for his role in this, ed.] plan states: 
We expect that the Design Teams will begin by erasing all conventional assumptions and constraints about schooling: the schedule (and calendar), curriculum, class size, the pace of learning, teacher/student ratios, adult roles, teacher recruitment, health and nutrition, discipline, staff development, organizational and management structures, resource allocation, students-as-tutors, the nature of instructional materials and much more (p. 30) 
Waivers exclude charter schools from a significant chunk of state and local regulations, including many of those guaranteeing the safety of students. For example: waivers can grant charter operators the right to retain control over their own operations; eliminate enrollment caps, ease restrictions on employee qualifications; and exempt charters from state collective bargaining laws. The theory behind waivers for charters holds that “free market” competition would drive charters to the straight and narrow course and keep operators above board. This, of course, ignores that fact that education reform-style “choice” is not based on true “free market” economics.

Waivers mean that charter schools do not have to jump through as many bureaucratic hurdles. But waivers also mean that there are few safety nets in place when things go wrong. When charters are mismanaged, parents have discovered that they haven’t many options for complaint, and little power to rectify the situation. Should troubles develop, there are few, if any, avenues for parental appeal. Charter school operators, even though they are on the government dole, have been granted the unbridled authority to make decisions directly impacting students -- what grades to offer, the number of children to enroll, what textbooks to purchase, whom to hire, where to locate, the condition of the facilities, etc. All they have to guarantee is acceptable performance on the designated assessment test.

Charter schools often experience growing pains that create dangers for children. According to an article in the Akron Beacon-Journal a Columbus, Ohio, bootcamp style charter opened without a working telephone in the facility and with portapotties in the parking lot. The police were called 12 times in several months for disruptions, including one charge of sexual assault. In mid-October 2002, “350 employees of charter schools did not have criminal background checks completed, and 36 had not even applied to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification & Investigation. A month later, only two schools were in full compliance.” (“Parents have freedom of choice, but not freedom of information” by Doug Oplinger and Dennis J. Willard, Akron Beacon-Journal, 12/12/99.)

In another issue examined by the Akron Beacon-Journal, a chain of Ohio charter schools targeting children with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) for enrollment was audited by the state for re-labeling students who enrolled with designations which included “severely emotionally disturbed.” According to a former teacher, the re-labeling was performed by school staff members who “were untrained to evaluate mental capabilities… [with] no parents present.” 
The school gets about $13,000 in state and local funds for each student classified with a special education problem – nearly double the money it would get for educating a regular student or one with ADD.

And nearly every student at Summit Academy Akron is reported to have a special education problem, even though most of them didn’t carry that designation when they were enrolled in public schools.

Now, allegations that Summit Academy has intentionally misidentified students with special education disabilities have drawn unscheduled audits from the Ohio Department of Education at two schools. And Akron Public Schools officials have asked state Auditor Jim Petro to review Summit Academy’s special education records.

In question is whether millions in tax dollars that flow into the eight Summit Academy charter schools in Ohio owned by Peter DiMezza of Akron have been properly obtained and used. (“School fund sham?” by Reginald Fields, Akron Beacon-Journal, 5/12/02)
The 3-Legged Stool of School "Choice"
Bruno Manno, a well-known “choice” proponent, admits to one charter’s “accounting irregularities, governance tiffs, and overreporting of enrollments”: 
The new D.C. school board moved during the 2001-’02 school year to close three other schools chartered by the previous board. They had an array of problems: overcrowded classrooms with little ventilation, high absentee rates, few textbooks and other instructional materials, abysmal academic results, and failure to file financial reports and to offer the advertised courses. (“Yellow Flag,” Education Next, Winter 2003) 
Bruno Manno’s solution to the crisis cited above? The National Association of Charter School Authorizers, who will press for “results” and “accountability” in “choice.” “Results” and “accountability” are sacred to education reform ideology. It doesn’t matter how the results are obtained. It just matters that they are obtained.

Waivers are a crisis waiting to happen. This is by design. Troubles will erupt as a natural result of this intentional design flaw. It only takes one big headline disaster for a national push to institutionalize education reform mandates on all “choice” options, including the last bastions of truly free choice: homeschools and private schools. This is why it is so imperative for “choice” reformers to broaden the definition of homeschooling. Once there is a well-publicized calamity – say, for example, with a cybercharter that superficially resembles homeschooling -- the reformers fully intend to start the drumbeat for more onerous governmental regulations, oversight, and intrusions on all choice, not just public “choice.” No child shall be left behind.

Related Posts:
The Deliberate Dumbing Down of the Village
Marc Tucker's Turkeys